Saturday, September 28, 2013

Young Woman with Braid

Charcoal Pencil and "Charcoal White" on Toned Paper
This is a recent sketch from one of this month's weekly drawing sessions in Springville. Using "charcoal white" on "toned tan" drawing paper gives the drawing a more cold appearance than I like, but I'm generally happy with how the sketch turned out. Once the toned tan paper is used up I'll probably switch to a darker paper more suited to this kind of lighting. I love drawing from the shadow side of the model!

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A New 5 x 7 Pochade Box

The combination of being an outdoor painter and a woodworker has resulted in me making a lot of my own painting equipment out of wood. There are five easels, five paint boxes, a couple pastel boxes, a bunch of panel holders, and I-don't-know-how-many boxes of various sizes for pencils, brushes, and other art supplies which I made and use. The problem this causes is that once I make something, I think of modifications or improvements, and then I have to make another one. And then another.

So.... Add two more pochade boxes to the list! Pictured above is one of the little 5" x 7" pochade boxes I've recently made and put to use. This pochade box is small, light and so easy to carry. The 6" x 8" and 8" x 10" pochade boxes I have are portable and often go with me on painting excursions, but they are possibly a little overbuilt and bulky. They also require their own bag for carrying. The 5" x 7" box can fit in my day pack. That will allow me to take my oils on longer hikes with ease, or take better advantage of small windows of time for painting. I'll certainly continue to make larger paintings, but little paintings can have a certain charm; an almost gem-like quality to them. That, and I had some pieces of Pennsylvania butternut wood that were asking to be made into something!

The image immediately below shows the little 5" x 7" pochade box open. The lid holds two panels. The palette slides out enabling access to paints, brushes, and other things in the bottom compartment. There is a T-nut in the bottom, attached from the inside, so the box can be mounted onto a tripod.

The brace that holds the lid open for painting is simply a sturdy piece of heavy gauge wire bent and fit into holes drilled most of the way into the side of the box and lid. For travel the brace is removed and stored inside the box. The holes for the brace may eventually wear out but for now they work great, and will be easy enough to replace if needed.

The box's versatility allows paintings to be made horizontally or vertically.

And there was just enough butternut wood to make two! That way if one of them gets dropped in a flash flood or blown over a cliff by a dust devil I have a backup. Butternut is a little on the soft side - about like pine - so it'll ding relatively easy, but it looks good, it's what I had, and it works just fine.

I took one of the little 5" x 7" pochade boxes out for a spin last Saturday. It was a day I really didn't feel like painting, and the weather was bad, but I thought I should get out and paint anyway. Besides, I had a new box to try out! It rained on me as I walked up the trail to find someplace to paint. However, the rain stopped as I set up and began to paint. The new little pochade box worked great! Here it is in action:

This is the painting I made on that rainy day:

5" x 7" Oil on Panel
On my walk back to the trail head there was an unusual sight. About fifty nighthawks were flying, swirling around above a rancher's field. I've never seen so many nighthawks in one place before. They must have been catching insects and getting ready for their seasonal migration.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Pastel Portrait, and Some Bluesy Southern Slide

14" x 11" Pastel on Gray Paper
This is another pastel portrait sketch done a few years ago at the weekly drawing sessions. Drawing on a toned surface allows you to build up darks and lights without having to build up everything from white. Gray toned paper can be a time saver that way, but more importantly it provides a foil for colors to stand out against, and helps highlights "pop" better. 

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

And now, on a completely unrelated note (no pun intended), here's some uncommon acoustic music by Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks! Enjoy!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gallery Show Tonight, plus Some In-Process Photos of a Painting

9" x 12" Oil on Panel
Tonight the Terra Nova Gallery is opening their 10th anniversary exhibit. The show features several of the gallery's "inaugural" artists who have been with the gallery since it started, and I'm one of them! Two of my recent plein air paintings are in the show, one of which is shown above. I've gotten a sneak peek of the exhibit, and it promises to be a very good show! The show opens tonight for "First Friday Gallery Stroll" and runs through this month (September 2013). The Terra Nova Gallery is located at 41 West and 300 North in Provo, Utah.  For gallery hours and more information visit Terra Nova's website.

It's been a long time since I've shown any step-by-step demonstrations of my plein air painting technique, so I thought I'd show how the painting pictured above was done. It was painted a few weeks ago in west Springville, not far from the lake. My apologies for the quality of some of the in-process photos, which are kind of blurry, but I hope they get the ideas across.

First the painting panel is toned with a mix of ultramarine blue and permanent alizarin crimson, plus a touch of cadmium yellow. Then the image is sketched in with the same color:

The colors that are then blocked in are a starting point, establishing value and color relationships. At this point I usually work from foreground to background, or dark to light:

The painting is then developed from the background to the foreground. Here the clouds and mountains are beginning to be worked up:

The mountains and middle ground are worked some more, and foliage is added to the trees:

The foreground is next, but I'm continually adjusting all parts of the painting as needed:

Final adjustments are made, and the painting is finished:

This was my set up for that day:

Hope you found this useful! As always, the painting looks better in real life so if you can go to the Terra Nova Gallery for the opening tonight - or anytime throughout the month (contact Terra Nova for gallery hours) - you can see it and all of the other wonderful artworks by some of the best painters and sculptors in the state (and maybe some from out of state, too)!